Federal prosecutors extensively use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) against associated-in-fact enterprises. Despite its frequent use, it remains unclear what constitutes an associated-in-fact enterprise. Based on the statute and case law, an associated-in-fact enterprise could extend to any two individuals engaged in illegal activity.
This article attempts to limit RICO’s scope by focusing on the “ascertainable structure” requirement. This requirement limits the associated-in-fact enterprise because it requires an ongoing, formal, organizational structure. It must also be separate from the enterprise’s illegal activity and possess its own common purpose.
The Supreme Court has not explicitly required an ascertainable structure and the Circuit Courts are split on this issue. Therefore, this article attempts to provide a solution to this dilemma. This article will argue that an associated-in-fact enterprise requires ascertainable structure. Requiring ascertainable structure would comport with the statute’s structure, current case law in all Circuit Courts, and limit RICO’s scope to comport with Congressional intent.